Café Vietnamese

3 Ronin (Revisited) – Chippendale NSW Pho Review

It’s not often that I revisit a restaurant outside of my local neighbourhood, but after being incepted by images of 3 Ronin’s wagyu pho on Instagram I knew I had to go back. You will recall from being an avid reader of this blog that I last visited 3 Ronin back in September, when I thoroughly enjoyed their poached salmon congee and beef brisket baos. My partner, out of spoons from eating out so often in the first week of our annual leave, declined to come. This was a decision she lived to regret.

Before I get into the food, I need to make a quick special mention about the water. The table water served was filtered and chilled, and I was asked if I would prefer a bottle to pour by myself rather than them pouring for me. I quite like getting the choice to pour my own water, as it minimises hovering and gave me the opportunity to enjoy my pho alone.

3 Ronin’s pho, at $24.50, is the most expensive pho I have ever eaten. It is also, perhaps, one of the best.

The broth, which was poured onto the noodles in front of me in as an extravagant display, was delicious and full of umami. Two types of beef was served, one – a tender rare sliced wagyu, and the other – brisket with a bit of a smoked flavour which reminded me of their bao. There was also the addition of half of a soft boiled egg, which was delicious when eaten with the soup.

The bowl was accompanied by the standard Thai basil, chopped chilli and a healthy serving of fresh bean sprouts. Interestingly, 3 Ronin has chosen to serve their pho with finger limes rather than the traditional lemon or lime – a distinctly Australian choice. I found that compared to the usual conventional method of citrus delivery, the finger limes did not pollute the soup with sourness in every bite. As discrete pellets of sour flavour, the finger limes were able to provide a sour taste to specific mouthfuls only when desired, making them quite an interesting touch.

My overall thoughts are that while a very expensive bowl of Pho, the results are quite worth it. 3 Ronin still seems to be a a bit of a hidden gem, despite having been open for a couple of months. Only half the tables were filled at 12:30PM on a weekday, which is prime time for some lunch. I think at least part of this is due to the price – their food does seem a bit expensive to the cheaper, food court fare in Spice Alley – but I do still think it is undeserved. I’d highly recommend giving their pho, as well as their salmon congee a try.

On my third visit to 3 Ronin we again had the wagyu pho, which unfortunately wasn’t as good as I remembered it. We were also significantly disappointed by another dish.

3 Ronin’s Ginger and Shallot Sourdough Waffle ($16.50) with smoked salmon and slow egg, was, unlike the rest of their menu, actively bad. I could not imagine a more bland tasting, structureless waffle than the one pictured above. The slow egg, a bit watery this time and without its own flavour, struggled alongside tiny slivers of smoked salmon to add flavour, ultimately to no avail. An anti-recommendation for this dish is in order.

3 Rōnin
26 Kensington St, Chippendale NSW 2008
0411 616 167

Café Modern Australian

A1 Canteen (Revisited) – Chippendale NSW Brunch Review

When we heard that A1 Canteen in Chippendale was closing down, we knew we had to visit again to try their famous curry eggs before they disappeared off the face of the planet. These were the same eggs that mesmerized me during my previous visit to A1 Canteen back in July.

Armed with months of insider parking knowledge, we booked ahead and found street parking early in the day. This was a much less awful process than last time.

Curried scrambled eggs

While visually arresting, the curried scrambled eggs ($19) were ultimately a bit of a disappointment. The dish basically consists of three elements – egg, sausage, and muffin. The egg is meant to be the star of the dish, but I found it the weakest component. Despite its orangey look, the eggs were in fact not that curried. The curry flavour was quite weak, and did not live up to the expectations set by the eyes. They were cooked just fine, but definitely were not as light and perfect as those at Dopa. The muffin component was superb. They were toasted to a crisp ideal of perfection, contrasting synergistically with the runniness of the eggs. The sausage, which is from local delicatessen LP’s, was complexly textured and enjoyable. My partner specifically remarked how nice it was to get a normal sausage as opposed to a chorizo which she feels is a bit overdone in the brunch scene.

Panna Cotta

A1 Canteen also served me my first ever Panna Cotta ($13) with stewed rhubarb ( I thought it was strawberry), long pepper, and olive oil. I thought it was fine. My partner was more enamoured with it than me, so I will let her explain in her own words: “The olive oil added a lot to it in a surprising way. It was creamy and yummy and I really liked the olive oil and it was not something I thought would go with it, but it really brought out the flavours. I never experienced such an olivey flavour before.”

Overall I was again a bit disappointed by A1 Canteen, but I would’ve been equally disappointed if they had closed down without me every trying the curried eggs. Go if you want.

A1 Canteen
Ground 2/10 Kensington St, Chippendale NSW 2008

Asian Fusion Café Chinese

3 Ronin – Chippendale NSW Cafe Review

UPDATE: See my thoughts on their Pho here

3 Ronin is a new Asian-fusion cafe in Spice Alley (Central Park Sydney) with a limited but exciting menu.

The Quinoa & Rice Congee with Poached Salmon, Slow Egg, Shallots & Radish was the highlight of the meal. It was a successful exploration of umami, combining both Winter and Spring themes. We really felt like the congee warmed us up from the inside out, while the coriander and cripsy sour radish provided a fresh Spring feel to it. The salmon reminded us of thick cut, raw smoked salmon that was lightly poached in the warm congee soup, and provided a well balanced protein load for the rest of the dish. The “slow egg” was a highlight of the dish, and something I had never experienced before. The egg yolk was not cooked, but firm and didn’t spill. Absolutely perfect.

I’ve been off baos ever since I had my first baos from a food truck in New Zealand last year, a very bad collection of oversauced disasters. The Waygu Bao ($17.50) was however very good. The brisket was nicely cooked too hard and not to raw. The meaty flavours mixed well with the pickled cabbage and aioli. An overall hit.

This cheesecake style thing was just fine.

Overall i can recommend 3 ronin. I’m a sucker for Asian fusion brunch and the congee is definitely worth a try.

UPDATED: See my thoughts on their Pho here (spoiler: it’s good!)

3 Rōnin
26 Kensington St, Chippendale NSW 2008
0411 616 167

Café Modern Australian

A1 Canteen – Chippendale NSW Restaurant Review

Pegg asked me to find somewhere for brunch today. It’s our only day off together in 11 days so the stakes were high. After much deliberation we found ourselves looking for a park in Chippendale so that we could eat at A1 Canteen.

While we had previously had easy success parking for X23 Asian Fusion Cafe around the corner, today was not our day, and we ended up spending around 25 minutes circling the Central Park complex looking for a park. We finally found a 1-hour spot 10 minutes’ walk away, leaving us 40 minutes to get seated, order, eat, and leave. A true high-anxiety challenge, but one that we succeeded in.

A1 Canteen, I’m told, is run by the man behind Automata. Apparently is difficult to run two restaurants at once and thus this needs to be mentioned in every online review of A1, especially when they’re across the road from one another.

The Muffuletta ($20) is a vertical sandwich slice consisting of pressed meats, cheese, greens, artichoke, and olive salad. It is served with cutlery, and thus a dare to the patron to eat it with their hands. I enjoyed the Muffuletta as I would any other sandwich which would typically cost $7. It was meaty and cheesy, but otherwise not that special. The vertical cut of the sandwich meant that the filling to bread ratio was excellent, but the pedestrian taste did not justify its high asking price.

slow roasted lamb shoulder

The slow roasted lamb shoulder ($27) was significantly more interesting. It is served with small grilled flatbread, brocollini, cauliflower, chickpeas, and yellow chili pickles, each adding an additional dimension. The yellow chili pickles were particularly juicy and delicious, and added a nice tang to it. The price again is a bit steep for what it is. Looking at an older copy of the menu it looks like the lamb shoulder was previously $24 with a choice of two salads.

A special mention needs to go to the service at A1 Canteen. The kitchen was speedy and our waitress very observant to our hydration requirements. The room was spacious and decor nice. I personally felt a bit underdressed and outclassed in my T-shirt and trackpants.

Overall A1 canteen was passable but overpriced. I would not recommend the Muffuletta and would not have it again myself. One of the ladies next to us had some curried scrambled eggs which looked amazing, so I think we will probably end up going back at some point to try them. Three and a half overpriced weighted sandwiches out of Five.

A1 Canteen
Ground 2/10 Kensington St, Chippendale NSW 2008

NOTE: A1 Canteen is now permanently closed – Click here to read what I thought when I went back for a last hurrah.

Asian Fusion Café Malaysian

X23 Asian Fusion Cafe – Chippendale NSW Restaurant Review

A few weeks ago I went to 101kissa, an Asian fusion brunch place in Chippendale. This week I went to X23 Asian Fusion Cafe, an Asian fusion brunch place In Chippendale.

My girlfriend drove me to brunch after one of my night shifts. We had thought about going for a couple of weeks, and finally the opportunity arose for me to sacrifice some sleep for some food. I wore sunglasses the entire time to limit my blue light exposure and posting these photos up is the first time I’m seeing these foods in their normal colour.

The shroom room shrooms ($16.80) were quite shroomy. The eggs were well poached, and most of the shrooms were enjoyable, particularly the enoki. One particular mushroom had a strong Vegemite-like taste which I was not a fan of. Maybe my palate is not developed enough. But maybe I just know what I like and this particular long shroom wasn’t it.

The X23 red eggs ($22.50) are very similar to but not as good as the chili crab scrambled eggs at 101kissa. In comparison with the similar concept eggs at 101kissa they did not have as much crab. They’re overall not bad, but when you have a better option just a few minutes away they’re hard to recommend.

I have no idea what the sriracha bacon ($4) was meant to go with. It was probably my mistake to buy it.

Drinks were fine. I liked the dual wall glasses.

Overall impression: I want to like X23 Asian Fusion Cafe but I just don’t. Nothing was really special for me, and its unfortunate proximity to a better competitor makes it a miss. Six out of ten stars. Will probably go back.

X23 Asian Fusion Cafe
102/18 Park Ln, Chippendale NSW 2008
(02) 9056 5138